New Delhi: If 2008 was the deadliest year of the decade in terms of killings and violence in Jammu and Kashmir, as 586 people lost their lives, the first half of 2019 has been no better. Since January, 271 killings have been recorded. This has been highlighted by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a federation of human rights organisations and individuals, in its first half-yearly report for 2019.
Killings peaked in February, when Pulwama happened
The organisation said 43 civilians, 120 militants and 108 Indian armed forces personnel were killed in the first six months of the year. The report also noted that the number of killings were the highest in February, at 87, while the lowest was in April, at 19.
The JKCCS said of the 43 civilians killed, 14 died at the hands of the security forces, 12 were killed by unidentified gunmen, eight died in shelling across the Line of Control and five were killed by suspected militants.
Most of these civilian killings were reported from the four south Kashmir districts of Anantnag (3), Kulgam (2), Shopian (5) and Pulwama (11), while nine of the deceased civilians were killed in the north Kashmir districts of Kupwara (4), Bandipora (2) and Baramulla (3).
Pulwama suicide attack killed most security personnel
The report also noted that of the 108 security personnel killed, 48 died in the suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14. In addition, 15 security personnel reportedly committed suicide while two special police officers of the Jammu and Kashmir police were killed by suspected militants.
Following the February suicide attack, the report said the cordon and search operations by the security forces increased in the state. “In the first six months of 2019, at least 177 CASOs were conducted in IAJK by Indian armed forces. The four south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian witnessed the majority of the CASOs. The 177 CASOs have resulted in the killing of at least 118 militants, four civilians and destruction of at least 20 civilian properties,” it added.
Preventive detention used to ‘muzzle dissent’
The JKCCS report also took a critical view of the various actions by security forces in the state. It claimed that the use of administrative detention under provisions of the Public Safety Act (PSA) continued unabated in the first half of 2019, with 25 people being booked under it.
The organisation said the PSA was used against Jamaat-e-Islami activists, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik, Bandipora district president of Hurriyat (G) Sheikh Danish Mushtaq, its Kulgam district president Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh, and zonal president of the JKLF Noor Muhammad Kalwal.
Torture used as tool to intimidate, punish people
The report also accused the armed forces of resorting to torture to “intimidate, threaten and punish the people”. It said one of these cases was of Rizwan Assad Pandit, a 29-year-old school teacher from Tral, who died in police custody after he was ‘illegally’ detained in a Cargo Camp of Special Operations Group of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
It also accused the state government of frequently resorting to arbitrary arrests and illegal detention as well as banning events and organisations.
Pellet guns continue to hurt and maim
The report also raised the issue of how the use of pellet guns continues unabated by security forces in the state. It said these guns, first introduced in 2010, resulted in three deaths this year.
They also caused grievous eye injuries to many, including 14-year-old Asif Ahmad Parray, who was hit by a full cartridge of pellets from a point-blank range when he was on his way home.
A labourer from Bihar, Sohanjeet, also sustained pellet injuries in both his eyes in May. Overall, the report said, about 95 cases of people being hit by pellets were reported by the local media.
The report also noted how internet services were suspended 51 times in the first half of the year as part of the ongoing counter-insurgency measures by the government in Jammu and Kashmir.
It also spoke about 43 incidents of attacks on Kashmiris in other parts of the country.